Finding Abydos by Layton Colt

Jack returns from the first mission on Abydos, and has to decide where he wants to go from there.

Jack O'Neill closed his eyes as water spilled down around him. The sound reminding him of his childhood, of sitting by the window and watching the rain. The memory slipped away quickly, mixing with the warm water and splashing down the drain, washing away along with the horrors from his latest mission.

The bathroom tiles were cool as his back rested against it, but the water warmed him quickly. But it could only warm him to an extent, there was a part of him, he was sure, that wouldn't ever completely thaw.

Sarah was gone. She'd packed a suitcase and left. Probably, she'd tried to get away before someone could come to inform her that her husband had been killed. He hadn't expected to come back -- he'd never wanted to make it back -- and Sarah had seen that in his eyes. She was no doubt sitting in her parents home, curled on the couch with tear streaks lining her face and her hand poised just over the phone. Wanting to call, but afraid she wouldn't receive an answer -- or maybe -- afraid that she would.

He wouldn't call her, she was better off with out him. And he was pretty sure they were separated by barriers that neither of them were brave enough to tear down. He wouldn't go searching for her, he wouldn't try to win her back, he'd caused her enough pain for three lifetimes and she didn't need him as a constant reminder of everything she'd lost. Everything he'd given her, and then so carelessly let slip away.

The part of him that Sarah had loved had died along with Charlie. The name of his son lanced through him, breaking open wounds that would never truly heal, causing him to hold back a sob as he let himself slide down the shower wall. He closed his eyes and saw his son. Laughing blue eyes shone out at him, looking at him with a kind of hero worship that he'd never been able to get enough of.

Nobody else had ever looked at him with that kind of unconditional trust. No one but Charlie had ever had so much faith in him, without any reason at all. Not until.

'Wait for me.'

The vision of Charlie was replaced with another pair of blue eyes. These eyes didn't laugh, they were wiser, but just as innocent.

'Wait for me.'

Dr. Daniel Jackson. Daniel had trusted him. God knows why, but he had. He'd trusted him, and Jack had felt an obligation to come through. He'd failed enough people in his life, he wasn't about to add one more to the list. So he'd waited. Waited while the kid he'd written off as a dweeb risked his life for a virtual stranger. After, of course, he'd already given his life for someone who didn't even want to live.

He'd been so angry. So mad at the know-it-all scientist for jumping in front of him. You didn't give your life for people who did nothing but snap at you. You didn't give your life to people who were responsible for the deaths of their children. Daniel was so much more valuable than him, he'd realized that in the first moments he met him. Sure, he hadn't quite realized how much there was to Daniel at first, but seeing him give the science stiffs a run for their money had given him some insight into the young doctor, and he'd known he was going to end up doing something important.

Not like him. He was a screw up, always had been. God.he'd been ready to kill them all. He'd pushed the button, started the countdown. An entire planet, and he had actually been prepared to blow them all to hell. Daniel would never have done anything like that. He got the feeling, Daniel was one of those people who never did anything that went against what they believed in. Jack did. He did things for his country he'd have never of done if he'd been listening to his heart.

Jack cursed as the water coursing down on him turned cold. He stood up and shut the water off, before grabbing a towel and heading to his bedroom. Just his bedroom. Sarah's reading glasses were no longer on her nightstand. There wasn't a book sitting half open, or some Cozmo magazine with mustaches drawn on all of the models.

Sarah was gone. Charlie was gone. What was left for him? He turned to his dresser, his eyes locking on the slick black object resting on the polished wood. He moved towards it, and lifted it carefully.

Somehow, it wasn't as heavy as he remembered. It wasn't quite as much as a burden to hold. He sat down on the edge of his bed and looked down at the gun. He could still do it -- still end it. Take his life, and allow Sarah to receive the call she was waiting for, let her move on with a clean slate.

Except.except he knew now that he couldn't. Daniel had seen something in him, had given his life for him, and he wouldn't repay that deed by turning around and ending it himself.

There was a kind of eternal hope in Daniel's eyes that caused him to think maybe life was worth living after all -- there was a quiet passion to his words that made him reconsider his reasons for wanting to give up.

'I don't want to die, your men don't want to die, it's a shame you're in such a hurry to.'

A shame.

Why? Why had he cared?

Jack stood up abruptly, pulling open the top drawer of his dresser and tossing the gun inside. He slammed the drawer shut, and pulled a pair of sweats out of the next one down.

He'd given no reason for Daniel to think his death would be a shame. He'd given Daniel every reason to want to see him sent straight to hell.

A shame.

'Wait for me.'

What was it about this whole thing that was affecting him so much? So yea, he'd gone to another world. Big deal. It hadn't been all that different. People were still people. There was the alien guy, Ra, but he was dead now. Dead and forgotten. Just, Charlie wasn't forgotten. Not always. Sometimes he could forget.only sometimes.

His mind kept pulling him back to Abydos. Kept making him think about the enigma that was Daniel Jackson. With a smile, Jack remembered the other person on Abydos that had looked at him with a kind of hero worship he'd never expected to see again. Skarra. The kid had been so happy about that damn lighter. Such a simple thing.but.

God, he'd been so full of life. Skarra had been teeming with energy, a kind of unbreakable spirit Jack couldn't help but admire. He sensed the same spirit in Daniel, but it was far more contained, far more reserved.

Jack had been like that once. Back when he was younger, back when his biggest problem was the rain, and his cancelled baseball games. But his spirit hadn't been had been shattered. It had survived countless missions, survived the loss of countless comrades only to be taken away with the sound of a gunshot.

He'd been so sure the pieces of his soul would be separated forever, but for the first time since the death of his son, he actually thought he might want to try and pull them back together again. He had to. Too many people had lost their lives when they had wanted to live, for him to throw his away just because at the moment, he didn't want to.

Life was precious, Charlie had been living proof of that. Life was fleeting, and you had to make the most of it. And Jack had a lot to make up for. Maybe there was no way he'd ever atone for forgetting to turn the key on his desk drawer, but he'd spend the rest of his life trying.

He owed it to Charlie, who wasn't here to make a difference for himself. He owed it to Daniel, who had died to save him without a second though. He owed it to Skarra, who was just one of countless kids out there that needed someone to care. And he owed it to Sarah, who had suffered enough.

The sound of rain on the window caused him to look up. The droplets slapped against the glass -- sounding out its unique rhythm. He stepped closer, looking out into the night, up towards the stars.

Daniel was somewhere out there. Getting into trouble and making a difference, no doubt. He would make a difference as well. He owed the world that much, at least, in compensation for all he'd taken away.

He got the feeling there were things out there waiting for him. He would be ready to search for them soon -- but first he had to heal. He had to try to gain back some of himself. He was no use to the world as he was -- and he knew he wouldn't ever really get back to who he used to be. But there was still hope for him -- and it lay out there. Out with the stars.

He smiled slightly, wondering if he would ever walk out onto an alien world again.if he would ever get to see Daniel and Skarra again. He opened the window, heedless of the rain spilling inside, and allowed the moonlight to wash over him. He looked up towards the stars, searching in vain for the one where Daniel was now living.

It might take a while to spot the right one, but Jack was certain, he would find Abydos again.

The End